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Lesson 4 – International Standards for Disaster and Refugee Response

Lesson 4 – International Standards for Disaster and Refugee Response

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC), the world is now experiencing the highest levels of displacement on record. Globally, an unprecedented 65.6 million people have been forced from home (2018). North American healthcare volunteers often serve in the frontlines caring for people displaced by disasters or crises. This session overviews life-saving and dignity-upholding principles and standards established by the international response community and outlined in the widely recognized and used “Sphere Handbook: Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response.”  Participants will gain resources for engaging responsibly and effectively in international disaster and refugee response.

Presented by Laura Smelter M.D.

Dr. Smelter is Director of Training for Christian Health Services Corps. She received her MD from MCP-Hahnemann School of Medicine. She completed her residency at the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center Family Medicine Residency Program in South Bend, Indiana and is board certified in family practice. She has volunteered short term in various settings and at several mission hospitals around the globe with World Medical Mission/Samaritan’s Purse. She served a term with SIM in Nigeria in hospital administration, residency physician training, and clinical capacities; and a term with Samaritan’s Purse in Haiti in medical and maternal child health program management. In these experiences Laura saw the importance of collaboration between clinical care and community development. In the United States, Laura has worked in private practice and as a family medicine residency faculty member teaching doctors in training. As part of the USA administrative team at CHSC headquarters in Texas, Laura uses her experience in clinical, academic, administrative, and global healthcare and field work to help develop and implement individual, organizational, and public training and awareness programs supporting clinical excellence, transformational development, and missionary care within the United States and internationally.


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